Special Admission to the
California State Science Fair
There is no CSSF-affiliated fair in my area. How can I qualify to participate in CSSF?
The CSSF-affiliate in my area didn't let me participate in it. How can I qualify to participate in CSSF?
Thu Feb 5 20:28:42 PST 2009
The answer to both of these questions is the same: the California
State Science Fair will consider appeals for special admission owing to
exceptional circumstances. The number of granted appeals is always
small. In many years there are none; the number has never exceeded
0.5% of all participants in any year.
“Exceptional circumstances” means that you were blocked
from the normal and expected route to the Fair. Reasons for this can
- You attend school in a region without an
affiliated county or regional science
- You do have a cognizant affiliate, but after being accepted for
participation, the affiliate rejected your project, preventing
it from being judged on scientific merit.
- Your school has never participated in your CSSF affiliate before
and no opportunity to participate in it was ever offered. In
this case a good faith effort to discover your CSSF affiliate
must be shown in order to be considered for an appeal.
The California State Science Fair will not consider an appeal if:
- Your project was judged on its scientific merit at the cognizant
affiliate and was not selected as a qualified or alternate
project to CSSF. The affiliate is authorized to correct its
mistakes after its fair is over, but CSSF will not reconsider
any judging decision by its affiliates.
- Your project was not entered into the cognizant CSSF affiliate but
your school has participated in that affiliate in the recent
past. Similarly, if any student from your school has participated
in CSSF in the recent past, an appeal will not be considered.
- You simply missed your fair's application deadline.
If you believe that you have a project worthy of participation in
the California State Science Fair and qualifies for consideration under
the criteria listed above, then a letter of appeal should be submitted
to the Fair via email at
CalifSF@usc.edu as soon as
possible, and in all cases must be submitted before the final
Application Deadline. This letter should include:
- An explanation of the reason that the project was not qualified
through the normal process. If there is no affiliate covering your
geographical location, that explanation is sufficient. If there is a
cognizant affiliate, an explanation is required of the reason you did
not participate in that fair.
- A brief summary of the project. This is best presented in the same
format as the Project Summary page of an application. If yours is a
team project, make sure to include the names and grades of all team
- Name and contact information for 2-3 people who can evaluate the
scientific quality of the project. Ideally this will include at least
one person who has judged at either the California State Science Fair
or at one of its affiliates in order to establish a basis upon which a
comparison may be made to other CSSF participants. If the project was
done in conjunction with a professional laboratory (academic or
industrial) the research director most closely connected with their
work should be included. If only a teacher in your school is
available, the work should be explicitly compared with work done by
individual students in that school, and a statement as to whether or
not the teacher is familiar with other local projects which have
previously qualified to CSSF.
- If you attend school in an area covered by an affiliated fair, you
should ask them to report to us on your case. Absent comment from the
cognizant affiliate, CSSF will contact them directly. Evaluations of
scientific quality from the affected affiliate are particularly
Following receipt of a complete appeal, the Appeals Committee
will review and convey a decision within seven days. If the appeal
is approved, an application must be completed within three days or
before the Final Application Deadline, whichever is earlier.
California State Science Fair
FAQ: Special Admission